Church hosts grand event

December 01, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Renowned pianist and Waynesboro, Pa., native Daniel Sutton returned to the Tri-State area during the holiday weekend and helped dedicate a new grand piano at the First Christian Church Sunday.

Sutton, who among other accomplishments was hired as a music consultant to coach Oscar-winning actor Adrian Brody in "The Piano," was one of the many on hand for the concert/dedication in memory of a longtime choir member and a man who taught the Waynesboro High School graduate the ropes.

First Christian Church congregation members packed the Potomac Avenue facility early Sunday evening for the dedication of the Don Ruth/Genevieve Reecher Memorial Piano.


Attendees were treated to the elegant, booming sounds of the new Yamaha concert piano as played by Sutton on classics by Frederic Chopin and Johann Sebastian Bach. The event, part of the Leon Cross Concert Series at the church, included performances by Director of Music and Worship Eric Bowman on organ and Sutton's wife and renounced soprano vocalist, Abbie Furmansky.

The couple, now living in Germany, was in the Tri-State area over the weekend for a performance and agreed to do the concert because of Sutton's ties to the church, Ruth and Bowman said.

Ruth's service as an organist spanned several decades and three congregations in the Hagerstown area. Ruth also taught a thing or two to various would-be musicians, including Sutton, who went on from Ruth's tutelage to receive degrees from several music institutions, including The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a doctorate in 1995.

"I was a protg of Donny. He sort of taught me the ropes," Sutton said. "I learned how to improvise through him."

Sutton went on to perform in venues around the globe, including Carnegie Hall in New York City, and helped teach the ropes to Brody in 2001 during the filming of Roman Polanski's highly-touted film.

Bowman, a childhood friend of Sutton and a fellow Waynesboro High School graduate, said he "couldn't think of a better way to honor Donny than to have Danny." The two childhood pals from Waynesboro even played their first-ever piano-organ duet together Sunday, Bowman said.

Reecher was a member of the First Christian Church choir and the namesake of the piano that has been used for services there for approximately 15 years, Bowman said.

Sutton played at that dedication as well.

"(Genevieve) was a fixture in the corner of the pew over there," Sutton said pointing to the left-front corner of the church. "You think back, and certain faces just stand out."

Bowman said church members pitched in to donate in one month the more than $25,000 necessary to buy the piano.

"I have a very supportive, musical congregation," Bowman said.

He now also arguably has the "best piano in the area" under the church's roof.

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